Istanbul voters pick İmamoğlu as mayor

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The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu headed for a comfortable victory on June 23 in a re-run of Istanbul’s mayoral election, having a lead of nearly 800,000 votes.

İmamoğlu was leading with 54.03 percent of votes versus 45.09 percent for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım, with nearly 99 percent of the city’s ballot boxes opened, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

As he emerged victor of the election rerun after unofficial results were released, İmamoğlu thanked his teammates and all Istanbul residents.

“You have protected our tradition of democracy, dating back a hundred years. Thank you, fellow Istanbul residents,” İmamoğlu said at a press conference. He also thanked his family as well as the leaders, deputies, and members of the CHP and its ally İYİ (Good) Party. “Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan], I am ready to work in harmony with you. I convey from here my request to meet with you as soon as possible,” he added.

“I would like to express my appreciation to our friends, the heroes of today, who are tasked in provincial and district electoral boards. They are this day’s heroes of democracy,” he said.

İmamoğlu also urged polling clerks to not leave the ballot boxes unprotected and wait for the official results to be announced.

“I ask for you not to leave the ballot boxes until the official reports are finalized. So that this historic responsibility proceeds,” he said. İmamoğlu stressed that a new beginning starts for Istanbul with the June 23 elections, vowing “extravagance, arrogance, wasteful spending and marginalizing” will end.

“Turkey won this election, not a single party. You will see it with time. I will not marginalize anyone. For me, a duty order awaits. This is the most precious, honorable and proud duty in my whole life,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Yıldırım congratulated his rival as preliminary results showed the CHPcandidate’s massive lead in the do-over election.

“My rival İmamoğlu is currently leading,” Yıldırım said after the preliminary unofficial result was issued by the Supreme Election Council (YSK).

“We will try to support him in every work he will do on behalf of Istanbul’s residents,” he added.

The winner of this election is the “national will,” and everybody should read the message given by the voters, Meral Akşener, leader of İYİ (Good) Party, said.

İmamoğlu narrowly won office as mayor of Turkey’s largest city on March 31 with 13,000 votes, having received 48.8 percent of the votes, while Yıldırım got 48.55 percent, according to official figures from the YSK. İmamoğlu served for 18 days before his certificate of election was revoked. Turkey’s electoral board annulled the results on grounds that there were polling clerks who were not civil servants after the AKP claimed there were corruption and irregularities in the vote-counting process.

The re-election in Istanbul started in the early hours of June 23, as polling stations opened at 8 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m. local time.

More than 10 million voters were eligible to take part in the elections. Voters cast their votes at 31,186 ballot boxes across the city’s 39 districts. There were candidates from the Felicity (Saadet) Party and the Patriotic (Vatan) Party, along with 17 independent hopefuls.

Hurriyet Daily News

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